Newly inaugurated Governor Ron DeSantis has already kept one of his campaign promises. In a press conference held at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office the governor announced that he would suspend embattled standing Sheriff Scott Israel. The reason was due to events surrounding the shooting of 17 victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.
Making good on that anticipation, DeSantis announced his decision, declaring he has made the executive order to remove Israel from his post. That declaration was met with enthusiastic applause. Before going further he first gave a number of Parkland parents who lost children the chance to speak and voice their desire to see this change. Many gave vocal support of the selection made to replace the Sheriff.
In opening his own comments DeSantis made it clear the intent was to strictly look forward, saying how he is “not going to dance on the grave” of Israel’s career. The governor announced that the immediate replacement would be former Coral Springs Police Sgt. Gregory Tony. Tony also served with the Florida Highway Patrol, and currently operates his own security firm. As the Governor alluded to Tony as his pick he said he was doing so to “return leadership, competence, and accountability to the office”.
Israel had become a focus of controversy in the weeks following the shooting, and has been a lingering source of further questions as details emerged from his department’s actions that day, as well as practices that took place before those events. On Tuesday Israel indicated to operations staff that he was due to be suspended, made to think that the installation of DeSantis would lead to direct action.
As recently as this November Israel was the source of consternation, when he testified to a State Commission investigating the events of the shooting. “I don’t have any reason to believe any members of our agency knew there was an active shooter,” he told the Commission. Additionally, in referencing the actions of embattled deputy Scott Peterson, Israel stated his deputy “never got on the radio and advised this agency there was an active shooter.”
The official police reports indicate they did know of the shooter, and the police radio transcripts showed that Peterson did in fact voice that the shooter was inside the building. These details had been made public before November’s Commission met.
DeSantis’ predecessor, Rick Scott, had appeared hesitant to take direct action on Israel, even as a growing call for his removal was being made, both in public and political circles. Scott opted to have an investigation conducted by the Florida Department Law Enforcement before any action would be taken. DeSantis had promised to be more proactive in removing members of elected office who have proven to be problematic in the executing of their duties.
Following his campaign statements DeSantis used his being sworn into office on Tuesday to give a direct message on his desire to take action. During his inaugural address DeSantis alluded to his desire: “If a local official is neglectful of required duties, I will remove the official,” he said from the podium.
It only took days for him to follow through on that promise.